Hein Vanhaezebrouck vague about the future: “Interested in Antwerp?  They didn't come to see me"

“For the time being, the injury burden is not too bad. Jordan Torunarigha and Matisse Samoise are expected to be fit again on Sunday. Bruno, Hjulsager and Depoitre don’t get fit”, Hein Vanhaezebrouck looks ahead to the penultimate game in the Europe play-offs. “We still have two games to complete. We’ll see what the game in Genk yields, it’s not easy in Play-off 2 because everyone is going for it.”

In the meantime, it is also gradually time for a preliminary evaluation of Ghent’s performance in this post-competition: “That first match was very strange, they made something different because of an unnecessary exclusion after 30 minutes. We have already completed 58 games. Freshness is important, but it is not only about the physical aspect, but also the mental plane.”

“If you see which course we have completed since January, you are among the best in class. Even if you include that match against Genk, everything was tried to get us out of our flow. That didn’t work, when you see how many points we have taken since that dramatic January. We have beaten Club Brugge twice, actually we should have done that at home as well.”


Nevertheless, Vanhaezebrouck realizes that this long season is starting to weigh heavily for some players: “It is different for everyone; some boys have played a lot of matches: Ngadeu and Kums par excellence, the two oldest of the group. Cheers for still showing that drive. If you can digest so many matches and perform at a high level every time, you can compete at the top level.”

“When you aspire to that level, you are not talking about 30 or 40 matches, but you are playing 50 or more. That is not given to everyone. But that is expected at a top club. I always think of guys like Gerrard and Lampard, who played 60 games a year and were always among the best on the pitch and decisive. Those are the guys you know you can count on year after year.”

Vanhaezebrouck will therefore probably rotate again for the duel in Genk: “We have already given a few boys a rest in Mechelen: Tarik, Julien and Joseph did not start at that time. We try to do that regularly, maybe they will kick off again and it will be up to other guys against Charleroi. You should. We tried that at the beginning of the season, not always with the same success. A top club must be able to rotate without sacrificing quality. Those results were not forthcoming. You will certainly include that in your final evaluation.”


“We see ourselves as a top team”

In the meantime, it has been a few weeks of waiting for the very best Vadis Odjidja: “With Vadis it is always a bit of coming and going with periods in which he is very good, but then he also falls out with injuries, sometimes for a short time, then again for a longer period of time. Then for him it is always a search for his best level. That is also an explanation why he does not immediately perform at top level. That makes sense. Those others are sometimes lucky enough to be able to play more matches in a row. Those who drop out often need several matches to regain their best level. Vadis does not escape that either.”

On Sunday, AA Gent will go to Genk, a special duel given the events on the first day of the Europe play-offs: “That assistant? I almost forgot. That doesn’t count. We mainly give it to ourselves and want to conquer that fifth place. They will also be happy with that in the Champions’ play-offs. We see ourselves as a top team and that is why we now want to finish at the same top level in the Europe play-offs, as we started. Interested in Antwerp? Contacts? I can’t say anything about that. At least they didn’t come to see me.”

In the meantime, the talks between Vanhaezebrouck and the Ghent club board continue: “We will continue to speak and we will see. That could take a while, I said in the past. You don’t have to search for that anymore. We do indeed have twelve players who will be entering their final year of contract. That’s a given. Last year we finished fifth with a European ticket that we cashed in but we still bear the consequences of what happened. You can’t just solve that overnight. It will take a while before everything is back to how it should be.”


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